The Bonnareview: Part II
'Roo round two. Another four days of radiating positivity, free hugs, and countless high-fives with 90,000+ randos from across the country at the 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. Who wouldn't want to rage for four days to some of your favorite bands, while discovering awesome musicians that you've never heard of before? Before I give CV the "Perlmutter Top 5 Acts of the Weekend," I’ll briefly discuss the headliners. After all, it would be ludicrous to ignore the self proclaimed, "#1 rock star on the planet," whose current identity is more commonly known as Yeezus. After going on several rants about Walt Disney, how the audience is "scared" of him, and calling out the press, Kanye West proved that he is the only artist who can successfully get you amped up, while making you forget about the fact that you were mad at him a second ago because "the devil was trying to break him down." He had the audience jump up and down to feel the earth move during "Touch the Sky," and also played old school classics from his debut record, The College Dropout.
The other two headliners were great shows, especially the flamboyant, pizazzy Tiny Dancer. It felt like Aida in concert with a full band, as Elton John played numerous hits, including "Tiny Dancer," "Rocket Man," "Levon," "Dont Let The Sun Go Down On Me," and more. Jack White showcased his newest solo record Lazaretto, full of twangy and robotic guitar solos and creepy Willy Wonka-esque shrieks. White also played some of his classics, including White Stripes hits "Seven Nation Army" and "We're Going To Be Friends," even playing a single from one of his side projects "The Raconteurs," titled "Steady As She Goes."
White's rants were significantly more enjoyable than Kanye's, as he paid homage to other great musicians who hailed from his native Tennessee. While introducing one of his new songs, he preached, "this song was a conversation from my living room that turned into a melody." White knows how to paint a vivid picture through lyrics and relay it in an artistic way that we Bonnaroovians can understand.
So, without further adieu: "The Perlmutter Top 5 Acts" at Bonnaroo 2014!
1) The Avett Brothers. The brothers from Concord, NC, along with the rest of their energetic band, know how to bring heat to the stage -- especially when half the set is acoustic! Accompanied by an organist, an upright bassist, a violinist and cellist, the Avetts tenor voices blend unbelievably well as they split the duties of acoustic guitar and banjo. Highlights of their set included the singles of their two latest releases: "Another Is Waiting," and "Live and Die."
What really struck me about seeing this band live for the first time is that out of all the bands I saw this weekend, you can really sink into the lyrics because their striking and sharp harmonies allow you to understand the deeper meaning of what they are singing about. Scott Avett reminds me of a younger, fresher and folkier John Fogerty, and during “Laundry Room” as he sang, "Tonight I’ll burn the lyrics / ‘cause every chorus was your name," you can really feel the emotion in his voice. Additionally, when he went behind the piano for the last few songs including "I and Love and You," it was the peak of their set, leading the audience to sing together at the end. There are few things more powerful than thousands of people singing in unison. They kicked ass - I highly recommend seeing them live. Check out my video of their latest single “Another Is Waiting” below!
2) St. Paul and the Broken Bones: Prior to 'Roo, I'd never heard of this band. One of the best parts of going to festivals is discovering new and awesome acts that absolutely destroy the live game - and they fit this description perfectly. The lead singer, Paul Janeway, absolutely stole the show. This son of a preacher man is a crossbreed of James Brown and Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes). He led this soul infused rock-n-roll band through countless energetic numbers, which often ended in him passionately belting on his knees. The Phillip Seymour Hoffman look-alike gave me flashbacks to scene in "Blues Brothers" when James Brown tore up both the mic, and the dance floor, in the church. His backing band made the set all the more worthwhile. Songs often commenced with a slow, groovy, steady drumbeat and a mean, bluesy bass line, allowing Janeway to belt and transition into falsetto beautifully. His organist and horn section were incendiary and really helped inject a ton of soul into the bands live performance. Watch out for these guys – check out my video clip of “Half The City” from their set below!
3) The Head and the Heart: For active CV readers, you’ll know that I’m absolutely obsessed with this sextet from Seattle. They crush the 3-part harmony game, as Charity Rose Thielen (vocalist/violinist) paints beautiful violin strokes over them. Still touring in support of their sophomore effort Let's Be Still, I was lucky enough to be in a crowd of 30,000 Bonnaroovians who also knew all of the words to every song.
Check out Jake's review of Let's Be Still here
The indie-folk rock super-group played all of their hits, and led the audience through over an hour of sing-alongs including “Rivers and Roads,” “Shake,” “Down In The Valley,” and “Sounds Like Hallelujah.” Frontman Jonathan Russell, along with the rest of the band, was overjoyed with the crowds enthusiasm as the sun was setting over a perfect Bonnaroo Saturday. People put their arms around one another, swayed back and forth, and sang along. I really enjoyed the passion that the Head and the Heart brought to the stage that evening, and walked away content. I hope to see more of them soon!
4) Capital Cities: The Los Angeles indie-electro unit successfully got 30,000 Bonnaroovians to dance to every song they played. The trumpet player, Spencer Ludwig, led each song with an awesome jazzy line, which fused nicely with a live groovy drumbeat. That is what really struck me about this act. Usually when I hear this kind of dance music, I automatically assume it would be performed with a singer or two hopping around on stage over a backbeat, but Capital Cities threw everything out right in front of the audience: a synth player, a trumpet player, a bassist, guitarist, and a drummer. During their two biggest songs, “Safe and Sound,” and “Kangaroo Court,” everyone sang along to the chorus, loving the energy they brought to the stage. They also did a few covers that really got the crowd cooking: “Staying Alive,” and “Celebrate” really complemented the act’s talents. Look out for these guys – they are on the rise! Check out my video of “Kangaroo Court” from the show below!
5) Amos Lee: A friend recommended this show to me as I went along with little knowledge of Amos Lee; I assumed he was an acoustic, coffee-house type artist. I was very wrong in the best way possible. Lee brought a fresh reggae-funk-soul band to 'Roo, including an outstanding lap-steel guitarist and organist. He reminded me of hippie-soul Allen Stone’s act at 'Roo last year, as you could physically see how passionate he was about his performance; music runs through this mans blood, sweat and tears. He resembled a younger, funkier version of Ben Harper, and he covered many popular songs the crowd was more than happy to sing along to. It felt like a SuperJam, as he led his band in a phenomenal version of Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You." The 3-part harmony in the chorus was stellar. He also covered Michael Bublé, Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” and did a Bob Marley medley.
What really impressed me about this band is that each time a band member soloed, the rest of the band turned to face that person; it really showcased the equality that Amos distributed amongst the band. His songs created a gospel-like passion, and the crowd was into it. We encouraged the band to come out for an encore song, where they hilariously covered Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” as Amos preached, “You were conceived to this song!” This was a perfect act to see just as 'Roo ended on Sunday night, and I hope to see this soulful group again soon.
There’s my Bonnareview – it was significantly different going with Relix Magazine (my summer job) than as a fan, because certain perks became available to us. The indie-jam band Real Estate came to our booth for a signing, and I got to meet and chill with them. I also was privileged to enter the Artist Lounge, where I met Dr. Dog, and discussed the deeper meaning of their lyrics with them (in particular, the song, “The Breeze”). T’was another four days of musical excellence; live music everywhere I turned. I look forward o 'Roo next year already, and if you want to join my “c-roo” in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, hit me up!
Keep those records spinnin,
**All images taken by Jake, except for the Amos Lee photo. Sourced from Knoxville.com**